How to Lead


Leonard Zwelling

         I always thought politicians were older than I. Presidents
always were and senators surely were. Most governors, too.

         But a funny thing happened on the way to Medicare, I am
older than most of the politicians now. I have seen more than many. Heard way
too much. Failed too many times.

         Thus, I found George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Chris
Christie on Sunday, November 10 very interesting.

         For weeks now we have seen those elected to represent us in
the government act like petulant children. This is true of the Tea Party
Republicans who threw tantrums on national television and forced the Speaker of
the House to not take a vote in late September that he eventually took in
mid-October when the result at either time was preordained and identical. There
was no reason to close the government and furlough the workers (who we
taxpayers paid any way) other than to satisfy the Cruz-Paul-Lee wing of the GOP.

         The main stream Republicans like Boehner did nothing for
fear of being “primaried” from the right. So instead of acting like the adult
cows and bulls in their caucus, they were cowed by the Tea- and
Tantrum-throwing calves. Moo.

         The Democrats were no better. The President won’t talk to
any one who doesn’t agree with him or who he cannot intimidate. (Sounds like
another President I know).

         Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were totally ineffective. I give
her a pass as the minority party in the House can do little. But Reid leads the
Senate majority. Couldn’t he get the adults to the table? Apparently not.

         Thus, you would think, in this atmosphere of ineffective
polarized government. that in a Blue state like New Jersey a Republican would
have no chance. But Chris Christie won by over 20 points.

         In a past blog I discussed how Christie makes people feel.
It remains to be seen if his style, which can be both abrasive and pointed,
will play in Peoria (Illinois), Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. But
there is way more to Christie than style and it was on full display Sunday

         He refused to comment on matters of foreign affairs. He
claimed he was insufficiently briefed on such matters as a governor and that he
would leave this in the hands of the Secretary of State. Wise move.

         As to how he explains his re-election, it is really quite
simple. When a problem is identified in New Jersey, he discussed potential
solutions with all the interested parties and then “brings them to the table
and gets a consensus and moves on”.

         This is known as being an adult and it is also quite rare in
21st century American politics.

         One of the noteworthy early decisions by Dr. DePinho was to
eliminate faculty participation in a number of key committees. This took the
rank and file faculty members and their duly elected Senate representatives
away from the table. This is the antithesis of the Christie leadership style.
So is the Obama posture of being uncommunicative with the Congress members from
either party and unwilling to compromise when it is quite evident that his
centerpiece of legislative mastery, the ACA, is disintegrating in front of him
with a piece of software that won’t work making it impossible for the potential
supporters of the ACA to learn whether or not the bill will make their lives
better. The tragedy is not only that the site won’t work. It is
also that knowing the potential benefits of the new law remains beyond the
reach of the very people it was aimed to help.

         Christie is a gruff guy. It is not at all clear that his
demeanor will play in all of America. But anyone can take a page from his book
of leadership and realize that getting all those in the room with an interest
in a given solution is way better politics than shoving a solution down people’s
throats just because you can.

         Obama Care was forced feeding. The Moon Shots at Anderson
are forced feeding. Forced feeding adults neither provides them nourishment, nor
sates their hunger for change, nor secures the leader’s position with those he
or she leads.

         Why a young guy like Christie can figure this out and the
Harvard aces Obama and DePinho cannot is one for the ages.

Leonard Zwelling